Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1
and Superflex


Danish architecture firm BIG has scattered miscellaneous street furniture from 60 different nations across a brightly coloured carpet of grass and rubber at this park in Copenhagen (+ slideshow).

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

The architects worked alongside landscape architects Topotek1 and artists Superflex on the design of the Superkilen park, which stretches 750 metres through the Nørrebro neighbourhood in the north of the city.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

Neon signs from Russia and Qatar, picnic benches from Armenia and ping-pong tables from Spain are just some of the different objects in the park, which are meant to represent the nationalities of every local resident.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

"Rather than plastering the urban area with Danish designs we decided to gather the local intelligence and global experience to create a display of global urban best practice comprising the best that each of the 60 different cultures and countries have to offer when it comes to urban furniture," said BIG project leader Nanna Gyldholm Møller.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

The park is split into three colour-coded zones and different objects can be found in each one.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

A patchwork of pink rubber blankets the ground and covers the sides of buildings in the first zone, and the designers have planted maple trees with matching red leaves.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

The local market is held here, beside benches from Brazil, cast iron litter bins from the UK and a Thai boxing ring. There's also a children's playground, containing a slide from Chernobyl, a climbing frame from India and a set of swings from Iraq.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

Above: photograph is by Torben Eskerod

The second zone is conceived as an "urban living room" where locals play board games beneath the shelter of Japanese cherry trees and Liberian Lebanese cedar trees.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

Painted white lines run north to south across the ground but curve around the outside of the street furniture, which includes Belgian benches, Brazilian bar chairs, a Norwegian bike rack and a Moroccan fountain.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

Above: photograph is by Torben Eskerod

Grass plains and hills comprise the third zone, which contains areas for sports, sunbathing and picnics.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

A Texan pavilion provides a venue for line-dancing, while a sports arena accommodates football and basketball.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

"Rather than perpetuating a perception of Denmark as a mono-ethnic people, the park portrays a true sample of the cultural diversity of contemporary Copenhagen," said Topotek1's Martin-Rein Cano.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

See the initial designs for Superkilen in our earlier story.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

Other landscape architecture on Dezeen includes an undulating public square in Mexico and a plaza in Austria.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

Photography is by Iwan Bann, apart from where otherwise stated.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

Above: photograph is by Torben Eskerod

Here's a detailed project description from BIG:

Superkilen Masterplan

Superkilen is a half a mile long urban space wedging through one of the most ethnically diverse and socially challenged neighborhoods in Denmark. It has one overarching idea that it is conceived as a giant exhibition of urban best practice – a sort of collection of global found objects that come from 60 different nationalities of the people inhabiting the area surrounding it. Ranging from exercise gear from muscle beach LA to sewage drains from Israel, palm trees from China and neon signs from Qatar and Russia. Each object is accompanied by a small stainless plate inlaid in the ground describing the object, what it is and where it is from – in Danish and in the language(s) of its origin. A sort of surrealist collection of global urban diversity that in fact reflects the true nature of the local neighborhood – rather than perpetuating a petrified image of homogenous Denmark.

Superkilen is the result of the creative collaboration between BIG, Topotek1 and SUPERFLEX, which constitutes a rare fusion of architecture, landscape architecture and art - from early concept to construction stage.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

Above: photograph is by Torben Eskerod

A World Exhibition at Nørrebro

Superkilen is a park that supports diversity. It is a world exhibition of furniture and everyday objects from all over the world, including benches, lampposts, trash cans and plants – requisites that every contemporary park should include and that the future visitors of the park have helped to select. Superkilen reattributes motifs from garden history. In the garden, the translocation of an ideal, the reproduction of another place, such as a far off landscape, is a common theme through time. As the Chinese reference the mountain ranges with the miniature rocks, the Japanese the ocean with their rippled gravel, or how the Greek ruins are showcased as replicas in the English gardens. Superkilen is a contemporary, urban version of a universal garden.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

Above: photograph is by Torben Eskerod

Three Zones, Three Colors – One Neighborhood

The conceptual starting point is a division of Superkilen into three zones and colors – green, black and red. The different surfaces and colors are integrated to form new, dynamic surroundings for the everyday objects.

The desire for more nature is met through a significant increase of vegetation and plants throughout the whole neighborhood arranged as small islands of diverse tree sorts, blossom periods, colors - and origin matching the one of surrounding everyday objects.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

Traffic Connections

To create better and more transparent infrastructure throughout the neighborhood, the current bike paths will be reorganized, new connections linking to the surrounding neighborhoods are created, with emphasis on the connection to Mimersgade, where citizens have expressed desire for a bus passage. This transition concerns the whole traffic in the area at outer Norrebro and is a part of a greater infrastructure plan. Alternatives to the bus passage include signals, an extended middle lane or speed bumps.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

Market/Culture/Sport – The Red Square

As an extension of the sports and cultural activities at the Norrebrohall, the Red Square is conceived as an urban extension of the internal life of the hall. A range of recreational offers and the large central square allows the local residents to meet each other through physical activity and games.

The colored surface is integrated both in terms of colors and material with the Nørrebrohall and its new main entrance, where the surface merges inside and outside in the new foyer.

Facades are incorporated visually in the project by following the color of the surface conceptually folding upwards and hereby creating a three-dimensional experience. By the large facade towards Norrebrogade is an elevated open space, which almost like a tribune enables the visitors to enjoy the afternoon sun with a view.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

In addition to the cultural and sports facilities, the Red Square creates the setting for an urban marketplace which attracts visitors every weekend from Copenhagen and the suburbs.

Superkilen’s central marketplace is located in the area of the existing hockey field. A large area on the square is covered by a multifunctional rubber surface to enable ballgames, markets, parades, and skating rinks in winter etc. The mobile tribunes of Norrebrohallen can be moved there for open-air movie/sports presentations. The square towards East allows outdoor service from the café inside by the future main entrance. Towards North, the visitors will enjoy basketball courts, parking spaces and an outdoor fitness area.

» The red square is defined by a street in each end and building and fences along the sides. The edge is moving in and out - and we have tied the area together by connecting the surrounding given lines and edges in the big red pattern. A big red carped stretched out between all sides of the square.
» Fitness area, Thai boxing, playground (slide from Chernobyl, Iraqi swings, Indian climbing playground), Sound system from Jamaica, a stencil of Salvador Allende, plenty of benches (from Brazil, classic UK cast Iron litter bins, Iran and Switzerland), bike stands and a parking area.
» Only red trees except the existing ones.
» Basket ball next to parking.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

Urban Living Room – The Black Square

Mimers Plads is the heart of the Superkilen Masterplan. This is where the locals meet around the Moroccan fountain, the Turkish bench, under the Japanese cherry-trees as the extension of the area’s patio. In weekdays, permanent tables, benches and grill facilities serve as an urban living room for backgammon, chess players etc.

The bike traffic is moved to the East side of the Square by partly solving the problem of height differences towards Midgaardsgade and enable a bike ramp between Hotherplads and the intersecting bike path connection. Towards North is a hill facing south with a view to the square and its activity.

» The square can be spotted by the big, dentist neon sign from Doha, Qatar.
» Brazilian bar chairs under the Chinese palm trees, Japanese octopus playground next to the long row of Bulgarian picnic tables and Argentinean BBQ’s, Belgian benches around the cherry trees, UV (black light) light highlighting all white from the American shower lamp, Norwegian bike rack with a bike pump, Liberian cedar trees.
» To protect from the street ending at the north east corner of the square and to meet the wishes from the neighbors, we have folded up a corner of the square creating a covered space.
» Unlike the pattern on the red square, the white lines on Mimers Plads are all moving in straight lines from north to south, curving around the different furniture to avoid touching it. Here the pattern is highlighting the furniture instead of just being a caped under it.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

Sport/Play – The Green Park

Bauman once said that “sport is one of the few institutions in society, where people can still agree on the rules”. No matter where you’re from, what you believe in and which language you speak, you can always play football together. This is why a number of sports facilities are moved to the Green Park, including the existing hockey field with an integrated basketball court as it will create a natural gathering spot for local young people from Mjolnerpark and the adjacent school.

The activities of the Green Park with its soft hills and surfaces appeals to children, young people and families. A green landscape and a playground where families with children can meet for picnics, sunbathing and breaks in the grass, but also hockey tournaments, badminton games and workout between the hills.

» The neighbors asked for more green so we ended up making the green park completely green – not only keeping and exaggerating the curvy landscape, but also painting all bike- and pedestrian paths green.
» From Tagensvej at the very north, the park is welcoming with a big rotating neon sign from USA, a big Italian chandelier and a black Osborne Bull from Costa del Sol (a wish from a Danish couple living in the area!).
» Armenian picnic tables next to Mjølnerparken with South African BBQ’s, a volcano shapes sports arena for basket ball and football, a line dance pavilion from Texas, muscle beach from LA with a high swing from Kabul, Spanish ping pong tables and a pavilion for the kids to hang out in.

The green park is turning into Mimers Plads on the top of the hill to the south. From the top of the hill you can almost overlook the entire Superkilen.

Superkilen by BIG, Topotek1 and Superflex

Site plan - click above for larger image


Client: Copenhagen Municipality, Realdania
Location: Nørrebro, Copenhagen / from Norrebrogade to Tagensvej
Function: Public space
Site area: 30.000 m2 / 322917 sq.ft / 750 m long public space
Completion: Spring 2012
Authorship: BIG, Topotek1, Superflex
Collaboration: Lemming Eriksson, Help PR & Communication
Budget: Ca. 58,5 MIO DDK / 7.7 MIO EUR / 11 MIO USD

Project credits

Partner in Charge: Bjarke Ingels
Project Leader: Nanna Gyldholm Møller, Mikkel Marcker Stubgaard
Team: Ondrej Tichy, Jonas Lehmann, Rune Hansen, Jan Borgstrøm, Lacin Karaoz, Jonas Barre, Nicklas Antoni Rasch, Gabrielle Nadeau, Jennifer Dahm Petersen, Richard Howis, Fan Zhang, Andreas Castberg, Armen Menendian, Jens Majdal Kaarsholm, Jan Magasanik

Partners in charge: Martin Rein-Cano, Lorenz Dexler
Project Leader: Ole Hartmann + Anna Lundquist
Team: Toni Offenberger, Katia Steckemetz , Cristian Bohne, Karoline Liedtke

Partner-in-Charge: Superflex
Project Leader: Superflex
Team: Jakob Fenger, Rasmus Nielsen, Bjørnstjerne Christiansen

  • mksh

    The Danish are the new Dutch.

    • H-J

      This Dane has definitely learned his tricks from the Dutch… it’s OMA + MVRDV with a good splash of NLArchitects :)

  • paperblg

    Does Dezeen mean Lebanese cedar trees instead of Liberian?

    • You’re right! There appears to have been an error in the information we were given, thanks for pointing it out. Amy/Dezeen

  • svw

    Absolutely fantastic! Well implemented idea.

  • JWT

    SVW: absolutely fantastic? Are architects supposed to just work as gatherers? OK, you want a project? I’ll gather everything that was done all over the world and give it to you. And charge you for that. And then put my name under that work. Wow, really, absolutely fantastic!

  • James

    Absolutely horrible.

  • Zain

    The best thing about this project is seeing the guys working out =P

  • amsam

    Another project that looks great from the air and utterly, utterly ordinary from the ground. I see it again and again. I wonder if it’s because designers (myself included) don’t really learn how to draw anymore, so all the brainstorming is done on ground plans rather than perspective sketches?

    • guest

      Couldn't agree more.

    • Dom

      You’re right, I’ve never seen a single manual sketch released by BIG before. They only release those (probably) very carefully considered graphic diagrams, which tells us nothing about the design process.

    • hans dampf

      This isn’t all about design mate. This is about creating and activating a space where people with different migration backgrounds come together. A social thing, you know. And I think they succeeded in this idea.

      • Matt

        I went here – I thought it was fun/a nice change of scenery in the Norrebro area which is fairly homogeneous architecturally. They have some particularly awesome playground/exercise equipment – my favourite being a row of hanging rings. Not for kids. I showed a group of Swedish people how it was done yo.

  • moby

    This is some sort of grossly vulgar postmodernist thing (in the philosophical, Lyotardian, rather than the aesthetic, Philip Johnsonian, sense).

  • user

    The renovation of the tram sheds adjacent into a sports and cultural centre is much better. Done by AG5 in Copenhagen. A real social and design project.

  • I think it is an interesting project, definetly relevant and appealing to the inhabitants from what I have observed.

    Without a doubt this is a gathering of objects from around the world: that is the whole idea. But tell me what isn’t? Has there ever been anything done without inspiration and references to something existing already?

    Many of the architects that criticize BIG base their works on an aesthetical legacy of dogmas and academic brainwash, building ego-driven architecture completely disconnected from the people that are supposed to enjoy it.

    I do not intend to defend BIG, but to offend the existing architectural establishment, that have not yet understood that their profession is to serve people not their own ego.